A Hreflang tag is used for multilingual Web sites. The tag ensures that search engine bots understand the region and language for which a specific page is intended. With the hreflang tag, all language variants of a URL are named in the source code.
Especially for websites with a gTLD such as a .com or a .net extension, the use of the hreflang tag is important. Setting this tag allows a search engine to determine which result is most appropriate for searches in different countries and languages. So using hreflang tags not only has a positive impact on the user experience but also on your organic rankings abroad.
Moreover, a hreflang tag helps prevent duplicate content. This is best explained with an example. If you have a Dutch-language Belgian website in addition to your Dutch website, the content will largely match. By using the hreflang tag, you can make the difference between the websites clear. Namely, you are indicating that the content is similar because the pages target different regions.
Important when setting up an hreflang tag is that it is placed in the . This looks like this:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”nl-nl” href=”https://www.jouwwebsite.nl” />
Here, the Dutch language in the Netherlands is shown.
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”nl-be” href=”https://www.jouwwebsite.be” />
Here the Dutch language in Belgium is shown.
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-be” href=”https://www.jouwwebsite.be” />
Here the French language in Belgium is shown.
If you get started with implementation, it is important to indicate both the language variants and the native variant of the URL with the hreflang tag. Also be careful when using the language annotations for countries and languages. Even the order is crucial in this in order to target the right country. For example, do not use be-nl but nl-be if you want to target Dutch-speaking people in Belgium. With the other variant you target Belarusian (Belarus). If you do not have a preferred country for a specific page you can also use the x-default tag. This can be applied, for example, to a splash page where users can manually select a language.